UCHRA Board Votes to Dismiss Executive Director Luke Collins

EDITOR’S NOTE:  The following article is being reprinted with permission from the May 10, 2018 edition of the Cookeville Herald-Citizen.

BY JIM HERRIN

The former director of the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency said he has no ill will toward the agency’s board in spite of the fact that they voted Wednesday to terminate him from his position.

“Obviously, I wish the outcome had been different and I could have retired here, but that’s OK. Life goes on,” said Collins. “I want you to know I love all of you. I’m a Christian and harbor no ill feelings.”

The motion to dismiss Collins was made by Overton County Executive Ben Danner.

“I’ve been on this board for four years, and it seems like it’s been a continuous turmoil,” Danner said. “We’ve had investigative reports on top of investigative reports, so for the future of the UCHRA and the people in the Upper Cumberland, I make a motion we terminate the executive director.”

Putnam County Executive Randy Porter seconded the motion, and it was approved on a 14-12 vote.

The action comes about three months after the board had placed Collins on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into allegations of mismanagement, improper use of agency vehicles and misuse of comp time. They spent more than an hour in a closed to the public attorney-client session, listening to the results of that investigation.

“There’s been a lack of good management, in my opinion,” Van Buren County Mayor Greg Wilson told the board. “We serve the people of the Upper Cumberland. We do not serve the executive director.”

Before the vote on termination was taken, White County Executive Denny Wayne Robinson asked Collins to voluntarily step down.

“If your heart is truly for the best interest of this agency, I would ask that you resign,” he said.

But UCHRA attorney Danny Rader said it would be inappropriate for Collins to speak to that issue in the midst of the discussion on the motion to terminate.

Read the rest of the story in this week’s Fentress Courier.